Senators to police, NTF-ELCAC: End red-tagging and harassment, leave community pantries alone

SENATORS Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Frank Drilon, Sherwin Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan, Grace Poe, and Ralph Recto urge the law enforcement leadership to investigate the profiling and red-tagging of community pantries’ organizers in various parts of the country, and instead hold a dialogue with them.

The senators also condemned the posts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on social media.

“The profiling of organizers must stop. It puts people’s lives in danger, knowing how notorious some police, military officers, and personnel are in red-tagging progressives and now civic-minded citizens who only want to do good for their fellow men and women,” they said.

“Bakit hindi tanungin ng mga pulis ang kanilang pamilya at kamag-anak kung ano ba talaga ang pakay ng mga community pantry na ito? Malamang, marami silang kakilala na nakipila rin dito at naramdaman ang kabutihan ng kanilang kapwa Pilipino,” they said.

The senators stressed that “hunger is the problem and these relief efforts by private citizens should be encouraged.”

“The harassment and intimidation of those involved in these relief efforts exacerbate the hunger and hardships of our citizens. We condemn these acts,” they said.

“Hunger is the problem, which these relief efforts directly address. Imbes na pahirapan, pagbawalan, at ipasarado, tulungan na lang dapat ng PNP ang mga local government units (LGUs) na siguraduhing napapatupad ang minimum health protocols sa mga community pantries,” they added.

In a social media post, the organizer of the pioneering Maginhawa Community Pantry announced she is temporarily stopping its operations after law enforcers sought her personal information such as contact number and memberships in organization.

Ana Patricia Non said she fears for her life after the inquiry of the uniformed personnel. On Monday, reports said that similar incidents were raised by community pantry organizers from other sites, about law enforcers demanding that they reveal their personal information and affiliation.

“These community pantries have offered a venue for showing the true bayanihan spirit amid the hunger and poverty in this time of the pandemic. It is deplorable to paint this initiative with suspicions of communist links,” the senators said.

The senators support the call of Non’s family for a dialogue between the organizers of the community pantries and government authorities on this bayanihan initiative.

At the same time, the senators stood by all the organizers of community pantries nationwide and encouraged them to continue their efforts that demonstrate active citizenship and participation.

“We see you. We all know this is a community effort. We celebrate your energies and we stand with you all. We will always protect and uphold our fundamental rights, especially those toward a functioning and participative democracy,” they said. ###